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An Incredible PBX Cloud Platform That’s Second to None

With mixed results, we’ve invested a lot of time scouring the Internet for reasonably priced cloud platform solutions for Incredible PBX®. The fatal flaw with many of the low-cost providers was bankruptcy. But today we have a winning solution that we’ve used for many years with excellent results. Vultr’s latest offer of a 30-day $100 credit means you can test out the performance levels of various Vultr instances to determine which best meets your needs. You can also try out their automatic backup service. In addition to providing a terrific platform for your VoIP server, this latest Vultr deal also provides financial assistance to Nerd Vittles to assist with future development of the Incredible PBX project. When the dust settles for most users, we think you’ll find their $5/month plan is more than adequate to host Incredible PBX and another $1/month buys you automatic backups. Setup takes 30 minutes.

To get started, follow our Vultr referral link and sign up for a new account with your email address. Then deploy a new Cloud Compute instance in your choice of the locations shown above. Next choose 64-bit CentOS 7 as your Server Type. Then select the $5/month 25GB Server Size with 1GB RAM and 1TB monthly bandwidth. Choose a Server Hostname and click Deploy Now. CAUTION: Make sure you select CentOS 7 and not the default CentOS 8 platform!

Penny for Your Thoughts. One of the real beauties of Vultr is you pay by the hour for your instances. It only takes a minute or so to delete an instance and create a new one. If you’re new to Incredible PBX and VoIP servers, this makes it easy to experiment with the setup process until you are happy with the results. And the setup cost for a functioning Incredible PBX platform is about a penny. You’ll be hard-pressed to use up your $100 credit.

Installing Incredible PBX. Once your instance has been created, open an SSH or Putty session on your desktop PC and login to the IP address of your instance as root. You can copy-and-paste your default password from the Vultr dashboard. When you’ve successfully logged in, immediately change your default root password and follow the steps below to install Incredible PBX. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the process.

yum -y update
yum -y install net-tools nano wget tar
cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx2020.1.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx2020.1.tar.gz
rm -f incrediblepbx2020.1.tar.gz
# add a swap file for your instance
# kick off Phase I install
# after reboot, kick off Phase II install
# set desired timezone
# set FreePBX admin password
# set Apache admin password for AsteriDex and Reminders
 # display your passwords
# optionally install Incredible Fax 2020
# set up NeoRouter VPN client, if desired
# check network speed and smile
wget -O speedtest-cli https://raw.githubusercontent.com/sivel/speedtest-cli/master/speedtest.py
chmod +x speedtest-cli

Getting Started with Incredible PBX. Before you can actually make and receive calls using Incredible PBX, you’ll need to sign up with a SIP provider and configure a trunk, define how your PBX should route incoming and outgoing calls, and finally install and configure at least one softphone or SIP phone. All of this is accomplished using the FreePBX® GUI and your favorite web browser. Begin by pointing your browser to the IP address of your server. Login as admin using the password you configured with admin-pw-change above.

The way a PBX works is straight-forward. For incoming calls, the PBX identifies the Trunk delivering the incoming call, looks up the Inbound Route for that Trunk, and delivers the call to a destination specified in that route. This could be a phone registered to an Extension on your PBX, or it could be a group of phones known as a Ring Group, or it could be some other destination such as an IVR or AutoAttendant which answers the incoming call and provides the caller with a choice of options that define how the incoming call should be routed.

For outgoing calls, someone with a phone registered to the PBX picks up the phone and dials a number. The PBX looks through its defined Outbound Routes to identify how calls matching that Dial String should be handled. For example, 3-digit and 4-digit calls might be routed to an internal extension, 7-digit calls might have an area code automatically added as a prefix before sending the call to a specified Trunk provider, 10-digit calls might be routed to a different Trunk provider, and calls beginning with 01144 might be routed to yet another Trunk provider that offers inexpensive calling rates to the United Kingdom. Unlike traditional Ma Bell phone service, with VoIP calling, there is rarely a penalty for deploying multiple Trunk providers since most of the services offered are on a pay-as-you-go basis. If you don’t make any calls on a particular trunk in a given month, you don’t get a bill even though most providers require at least a minimal deposit to cover the costs of any calls you actually make.

Choosing a SIP Provider. Incredible PBX 2020 comes preconfigured with support for five SIP extensions and five of the major SIP providers: Skyetel, VoIP.ms, V1VoIP, Anveo Direct, and ClearlyIP. Both Skyetel and ClearlyIP financially support Nerd Vittles and our open source projects, and both offer clearly superior platforms with crystal-clear communications and redundancy so you never miss a call. Both also set themselves apart from the other providers in the support department. They actually respond to issues, and there’s never a charge. As the old saying goes, they may not be the cheapest, but you get what you pay for. Even without taking advantage of Nerd Vittles half-price offer on up to $500 of Skyetel services, both are still dirt cheap compared to the Bell Sisters and cable companies. Skyetel is so sure you’ll love their service that they give you a $10 credit to kick the tires before you ever spend a dime. Traditional DIDs are $1 per month. Outbound conversational calls are $0.012 per minute. Incoming conversational calls are a penny a minute, and CallerID lookups are $0.004. You only pay for minutes you use. Once you’re satisfied with the service and fund your account, you can port in your existing DIDs at no cost for 60 days after signup with Skyetel.

Configuring Skyetel for Incredible PBX 2020

If you’ve decided to go with Skyetel, here’s the drill. Sign up for Skyetel service and take advantage of the Nerd Vittles specials. First, complete the Prequalification Form here. You then will be provided a link to the Skyetel site to complete your registration. Once you have registered on the Skyetel site and your account has been activated, open a support ticket and request the $10 credit for your account by referencing the Nerd Vittles special offer. Once you are satisfied with the service, fund your account as desired, and Skyetel will match your deposit of up to $250 simply by opening another ticket. That gets you up to $500 of half-price calling. Credit is limited to one per person/company/address/location. Effective 10/1/2023, $25/month minimum spend required.

Skyetel does not use SIP registrations to make connections to your PBX. Instead, Skyetel utilizes Endpoint Groups to identify which servers can communicate with the Skyetel service. An Endpoint Group consists of a Name, an IP address, a UDP or TCP port for the connection, and a numerical Priority for the group. For incoming calls destined to your PBX, DIDs are associated with an Endpoint Group to route the calls to your PBX. For outgoing calls from your PBX, a matching Endpoint Group is required to authorize outbound calls through the Skyetel network. Thus, the first step in configuring the Skyetel side for use with your PBX is to set up an Endpoint Group. Here’s a typical setup for Incredible PBX 2020:

  • Name: MyPBX
  • Priority: 1
  • IP Address: PBX-Public-IP-Address
  • Port: 5060
  • Protocol: UDP
  • Description: my.incrediblepbx.com

To receive incoming PSTN calls, you’ll need at least one DID. On the Skyetel site, you acquire DIDs under the Phone Numbers tab. You have the option of Porting in Existing Numbers (free for the first 60 days after you sign up for service) or purchasing new ones under the Buy Phone Numbers menu option.

Once you have acquired one or more DIDs, navigate to the Local Numbers or Toll Free Numbers tab and specify the desired SIP Format and Endpoint Group for each DID. Add SMS/MMS and E911 support, if desired. Call Forwarding and Failover are also supported. That completes the VoIP setup on the Skyetel side. System Status is always available here.

Configuring ClearlyIP for Incredible PBX 2020

ClealyIP Trunking is perhaps the easiest to configure because the entire setup including registration is managed in the FreePBX GUI. Choose Connectivity -> Clearly Trunking -> Sign Up. Next click Login/Signup then Home then Start Your Free Trial to get started.

ClearlyIP Trunking provides E911 features that enable your organization to be Kari’s Law and Ray Baum Act compliant out of the box. You also have a choice of buckets of minutes providing expandable call paths or pay-by-the-minute service or a combination of the two. Unlike others, CNAM lookups and E911 support are included in the price of all their services.

Configuring VoIP.ms for Incredible PBX 2020

To sign up for VoIP.ms service, may we suggest you use our signup link so that Nerd Vittles gets a referral credit for your signup. Once your account is set up, you’ll need to set up a SIP SubAccount and, for Authentication Type, choose Static IP Authentication and enter your Incredible PBX 2020 server’s public IP address. For Transport, choose UDP. For Device Type, choose Asterisk, IP PBX, Gateway or VoIP Switch. Order a DID in their web panel, and then point the DID to the SubAccount you just created. Be sure to specify atlanta1.voip.ms as the POP from which to receive incoming calls. In the Incredible PBX GUI, be sure to enable the VoIP.ms trunk.

Configuring V1VoIP for Incredible PBX 2020

To sign up for V1VoIP service, sign up on their web site. Then login to your account and order a DID under the DIDs tab. Once the DID has been assigned, choose View DIDs and click on the Forwarding button beside your DID. For Option #1, choose Forward to IP Address/PBX. For the Forwarding Address, enter the public IP address of your server. For the T/O (timeout) value, set it to 2o seconds. Then click the Update button. Under the Termination tab, create a new Endpoint with the public IP address of your server so that you can place outbound calls through V1VoIP. In the Incredible PBX GUI, be sure to enable all of the V1VoIP trunks.

Configuring Anveo Direct for Incredible PBX 2020

To sign up for Anveo Direct service, sign up on their web site and then login. After adding funds to your account, purchase a DID under Inbound Service -> Order DID. Next, choose Configure Destination SIP Trunk. Give the Trunk a name. For the Primary SIP URI, enter $[E164]$@server-IP-address. For Call Options, select your new DID from the list. You also must whitelist your public IP address under Outbound Service -> Configure. Create a new Call Termination Trunk and name it to match your server. For Dialing Prefix, choose six alphanumeric characters beginning with a zero. In Authorized IP Addresses, enter the public IP address of your server. Set an appropriate rate cap. We like $0.01 per minute to be safe. Set a concurrent calls limit. We like 2. For the Call Routing Method, choose Least Cost unless you’re feeling extravagant. For Routes/Carriers, choose Standard Routes. Write down your Dialing Prefix and then click the Save button.

Before you can make outbound calls through Anveo Direct from your PBX, you first must configure the Dialing Prefix that you wrote down in the previous step. Log into the GUI as admin using a web browser and edit the Anveo-Out trunk in Connectivity -> Trunks. Enable the Trunk. Then click on the custom-Settings tab and replace anveo-pin with your actual Dialing Prefix. Click Submit and Apply Config to complete the setup. In the Incredible PBX GUI, be sure to enable all of the remaining Anveo trunks.

By default, incoming Anveo Direct calls will be processed by the Default inbound route on your PBX. If you wish to redirect incoming Anveo Direct calls using DID-specific inbound routes, then you’ve got a bit more work to do. In addition to creating the inbound route using the 11-digit Anveo Direct DID, enter the following commands after logging into your server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /etc/asterisk
echo "[from-anveo]" >> extensions_custom.conf
echo "exten => _.,1,Ringing" >> extensions_custom.conf
echo "exten => _.,n,Goto(from-trunk,\\${SIP_HEADER(X-anveo-e164)},1)" >> extensions_custom.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

Configuring a Softphone for Incredible PBX 2020

We’re in the home stretch now. You can connect virtually any kind of telephone to your new PBX. Plain Old Phones require an analog telephone adapter (ATA) which can be a separate board in your computer from a company such as Digium. Or it can be a standalone SIP device such as ObiHai’s OBi100 or OBi110 (if you have a phone line from Ma Bell to hook up as well). SIP phones can be connected directly so long as they have an IP address. These could be hardware devices or software devices such as the YateClient softphone. We’ll start with a free one today so you can begin making calls. You can find dozens of recommendations for hardware-based SIP phones both on Nerd Vittles and the PIAF Forum when you’re ready to get serious about VoIP telephony.

We recommend YateClient for Windows which is free. Download it from here. Run YateClient once you’ve installed it and enter the credentials for the 701 extension on Incredible PBX. You can find them by running /root/show-passwords. You’ll need the IP address of your server plus your extension 701 password. In the YateClient, fill in the blanks using the IP address of your Server, 701 for your Username, and whatever Password was assigned to the extension when you installed Incredible PBX. Click OK to save your entries.

Once you are registered to extension 701, close the Account window. Then click on YATE’s Telephony Tab and place some test calls to the numerous apps that are preconfigured on Incredible PBX. Dial a few of these to get started:

DEMO - Apps Demo
123 - Reminders
947 - Weather by ZIP Code
951 - Yahoo News
TODAY - Today in History
LENNY - The Telemarketer's Worst Nightmare

If you are a Mac user, another great no-frills softphone is Telephone. Just download and install it from the Mac App Store. For Android users, check out the terrific new VitalPBX Communicator. Works flawlessly with Incredible PBX.

Audio Issues with Incredible PBX 2020

If you experience one-way or no audio on some calls, add your external IP address and LAN subnet in the GUI by navigating to Settings -> Asterisk SIP Settings. In the NAT Settings section, click Detect Network Settings. Click Submit and Apply Settings to save your changes.

Configuring SendMail with Incredible PBX 2020

In order to receive voicemails by email delivery, outbound mail functionality from your server obviously is required. If you’ve deployed your server in your home, your Internet Service Provider probably blocks downstream mail servers such as Incredible PBX from sending mail. This is done to reduce SPAM. In this case, you will need to configure SendMail using either your ISP or Gmail as an SMTP Relay Host. NOTE: If you are using a Gmail account with 2-step verification enabled, you MUST use a Gmail App Key instead of your Gmail account password. You also must enable Less Secure Apps access to the Gmail account. Here are the steps using a Gmail account:

cd /etc/mail
yum -y install sendmail-cf
hostname -f > genericsdomain
touch genericstable
cd /usr/bin
rm -f makemap
ln -s ../sbin/makemap.sendmail makemap
cd /etc/mail
makemap -r hash genericstable.db < genericstable
mv sendmail.mc sendmail.mc.original
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmail.mc.gmail
cp sendmail.mc.gmail sendmail.mc
mkdir -p auth
chmod 700 auth
cd auth
echo AuthInfo:smtp.gmail.com \\"U:smmsp\\" \\"I:user_id\\" \\"P:password\\" \\"M:PLAIN\\" > client-info
echo AuthInfo:smtp.gmail.com:587 \\"U:smmsp\\" \\"I:user_id\\" \\"P:password\\" \\"M:PLAIN\\" >> client-info
echo AuthInfo:smtp.gmail.com:465 \\"U:smmsp\\" \\"I:user_id\\" \\"P:password\\" \\"M:PLAIN\\" >> client-info
# Stop here and edit client-info (nano -w client-info) in all three lines.
# Replace  user_id with your gMail account name without @gmail.com
# Replace password with your real gMail password OR
#  use your Gmail App Key if 2-step verification is enabled
# Be sure to replace the double-quotes shown above if they don't appear in the file!!!
# Save your changes (Ctrl-X, Y, then Enter)
chmod 600 client-info
makemap -r hash client-info.db < client-info
cd ..
systemctl restart sendmail

At Vultr, you may need to open a ticket and request that TCP port 25 be unblocked. Then you can send mail without using a SmartHost; however, your server's hostname must actually be real or downstream mail servers will reject your mail. You can set your server's hostname like this: hostname noreply.incrediblepbx.com. This is usually sufficient; however, it's a good idea to also add the hostname in /etc/hostname and in /etc/hosts as the first entry on line:   noreply.incrediblepbx.com pbx.local localhost

Next, test outbound mail using this command with your actual email address:

echo "test" | mail -s testmessage yourname@youremaildomain.com

Once you are sure your emails are being delivered reliably, here's a sample GUI voicemail configuration for an extension:

Getting Started with Incredible Fax 2020

Believe it or not, there still are lots of folks that use faxes in their everyday lives. If you're one of them, Incredible PBX has your back. Begin by logging into your server as root and running incrediblefax2020.sh to install HylaFax and AvantFax on your server. You'll be prompted a dozen or more times for information. Answer no to the secure fax question. For the rest of the prompts, just press ENTER to accept the default entries. Rebooting your server is required when the install finishes. Once your server is back on line, there will be a new AvantFax tab in the GUI. Before proceeding, be sure to set an Apache web apps password by running /root/apache-pw-change. Next, login to AvantFax with your browser. You first will be prompted for your Apache credentials. Enter admin for the username and whatever password you set up in the previous step. Then you will be prompted for your AvantFax credentials. The default is admin:password. After you enter the username and password, you will be prompted to change your admin password. The old password is still password. Then enter your desired password twice and save the setting. The AvantFax dashboard then will display. If nothing has come unglued, you should see four green Idle icons:

You can Send Faxes from within AvantFax by choosing the Send Fax tab, or you can use one of many HylaFax clients. Google is your friend.

Where To Go From Here

Complete documentation on the ClearlyIP Devices Module is available here.

Complete documentation on the FreePBX GPL Modules is available here.

Complete documentation on the Incredible PBX additions is available here.

An introduction to configuring extensions, trunks, and routes is available here.

HINT: An Incredible PBX server on Vultr makes an ideal platform for your OpenVPN server.

Originally published: Monday, March 2, 2020

Need help with Asterisk? Visit the VoIP-info Forum.


Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.